Trustee Elections 2020
The second election of trustees of the Society of Research Software Engineering will be taking place this Autumn. Nominations are open from now (see below) until midnight at the end of Monday 31st August, with members voting in September over a period of three weeks. Results will be announced in early October as the new trustees take up their positions.
Since the first election of trustees of the Society in September 2019, we have been working hard to ensure that the Society has all of the necessary internal processes and infrastructure to continue and build upon the successes of the previous RSE Association. At the same time as this, the Society is supporting and leading a number of initiatives to further promote the growth of the RSE community and the position of RSEs themselves within the wider research community. These include the SORSE series of online events, the monthly newsletter, and preparation for next year’s conference.
This has at times required us to make difficult decisions, notably the decision to cancel RSECon2020 early this year. Due to the cancellation of this year’s conference, the Society will be holding an online AGM in early September. At the end of the AGM we will be opening voting for this year’s trustee elections. Candidates will have the opportunity during the AGM to put forward a pitch to our members, explaining their vision for the society and why they should be elected.
What is required to be a trustee?
Being a charity trustee is a significant commitment, but a rewarding experience which provides the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and have an impact on the national and international RSE communities. The role has a legal responsibility to run the charity and plan and oversee its activities for the public benefit and in line with its aims and constitution. However, since only half the trustees change each year, new trustees will be able to rely on the established committee members during their first year to become familiar with the processes and work of the Society. Trustees are elected on a two-year term, so six of the 12 positions are up for election this year.
The responsibilities of a trustee are described in this Charity Commission guidance (see section 2 for a summary). You must also be a member of the Society before you nominate yourself for election. If you’re not yet a member, see our membership page for details of how to join.
To fulfil the role of trustee you need to be able to commit sufficient time and attention to the role. We typically have quarterly face-to-face meetings and monthly Skype meetings. These face-to-face meetings last a full working day, but the current limitations on travel have shown that they can still work with remote attendees if it is not feasible to travel for them. Trustees will also need to have time (typically a minimum of two full days per month) between meetings to prepare, contribute to online discussions and decisions and work on Society projects or activities. We do not have administrative staff available, so all essential tasks must be shared between the trustees. This time is either volunteered by the trustee or paid for by their employer, though the society may be able to cover expenses such as travel if necessary.
We are looking for people with a passion for research software engineering and its community, who share our goal of ensuring that software and the people who develop it gain the recognition for their contribution to research. The most important characteristic we are looking for is enthusiasm and commitment to work with the RSE community and make things happen to further the aims of the Society. There are also some specific skills which would be very useful, such as:
- Previous experience as a trustee or knowledge of running charities
- Budgeting and financial reporting
- Design, marketing and communications
- Managing websites and online services (especially WordPress)
- Organising events
- Community building
- Leading teams, projects or committees
- Input on policy and writing proposals or bids
- Setting up and managing administrative processes
- Energy and creative ideas
The current trustees have each taken responsibility for a particular area in order to increase accountability and help ensure that the workload of managing the Society is divided fairly. These roles are listed on the governance page of our website. These roles are not fixed, but it would be worthwhile to consider which areas you are most interested in, or where your skills are most relevant as part of your pitch to our members.
In return for your commitment and contributions, you will have many opportunities to develop your skills, meet and influence people, raise your profile as a leader in the community and make a real difference to research and to society.
How do I stand for election?
In section 1 you will be asked for some basic information. Section 2 is to confirm that you understand the nature of the role and are eligible. You will be asked to supply the email address of two other Society members who support your nomination – please get their permission first. The final section of the form is your pitch to the Society’s membership. The five questions to answer are:
- How have you contributed to furthering the RSE role and building the community?
- What abilities can you bring to the role of trustee that would be useful in establishing and running the Society?
- Which of the current activities that the society engages in are you best suited to help with?
- What would you like to help achieve through the Society in the role of trustee?
- Why do you want to be a trustee of the Society?
After nominations close, information about candidates will then be published on our website. All members can vote and voting will open at the Society AGM in early September, where candidates will have the opportunity to introduce themselves and present their pitch. Voting will close after three weeks so that the new trustee body can be in place and results announced in October.